Science & Religion — Picturing The World

Both science and religion can be understood as sets of mental pictures or models of how things seem to be in the world out there. Science involves the construction of theories about the physical nature of the world. Religion involves the creation of tropes about the significance of the world for our lives in it.

A scientific theory is like a landscape painting that aims to reproduce, as clearly as possible, the world as we see it. Looking at the painting we can see what kinds of things are to be found, what colours they have and how their positions are related. The painting does not help us, though, to see either tiny details or the world at large — it is limited by its size and scale.

A religion is much more like a pen and ink cartoon. We can dismiss it on the grounds that the world is not two-tone. We can complain that some of its characters never existed and that those who did or do have certain features hugely exaggerated and others ignored. Nevertheless we may recognise in it a clear statement of some important truth.

Let's not dismiss cartoons because they are not landscape paintings!

Registered charity number 1113177
© All Sea of Faith material is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence